Thursday, March 3, 2016

In South Sudan, Malakal Leaders Say UNMISS Shot Five People, Didn't Protect

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 3 -- In the UN's continued withholding of news and answers about South Sudan, the reports of the UN's own knowledge of abuses are now being withheld from its own impacted national staff.  So Inner City Press has published below multiple leaked documents from inside UNMISS.

  Amid or because of this reporting on what the UN knows but doesn't say, on February 19 at the demand of UN Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach, Inner City Press was thrown out of the UN. Audio here. Its UN Pass has been confiscated and its files seized. Questions sent to Gallach and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric have still  not been answered.

  Ban visited the country, with no mention of the UN's own negligence for example in Malakal, much less of Ban's own media crackdown (petition here.)

 A group of community leaders in Malakal sent UNMISS a detailed complaint about the killings there, including that UNMISS did nothing despite being told in advance to impose preventive measures. See here and here and here, as exclusively published by Inner City Press.

 The letter says that UNMISS shot five people seeking safety in the UN "Protection of Civilians" site, and some died. We'll have more on this.

  UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kyung-wha Kang went on to Malakal and on February 26 said:

“I am outraged by what I have seen in Malakal. Civilians who had sought safety in the PoC have been attacked, killed, traumatised and displaced once more, with whole sections of the PoC completely and systematically burnt down and destroyed, including medical clinics and schools. Those responsible for these heinous acts must be held to account.”

  Would that include UNMISS, for negligence, not search for weapons smuggled in, and covering up initially for the SPLA?

 On UNMISS' failure to search for weapons, entirely ignored or covered up at the UN Security Council on February 19, here is a first-hand account exclusively provided to Inner City Press:

"“Peacekeepers were given info 2 days ago as was info passed out raising concerns. IDPs (Shilluk and Nuer elders raised this direct with UNMISS at the time of being aware of info. UN sat on it until first incident erupted. That came about as Padiang dinka 'IDP' walked passed UN contracted gate guards (Warrior Security I think) with significant volume of ammunition for weapons and was stopped by Shilluk IDPs. Fight broke out, Padiang dinka killed and ammunition given to UN.

According to the information  obtained from the camp, this problem started day before yesterday when UNMISS Protection Security Officers received sufficient security report that Dinka Internally Displaced Persons staying in Malakal UNMISS Protection Camp received illegal weapons smuggled from main town center into IDPs camp by their tribe security agents controlling the town since first week of July 2015 when SPLA- IO withdrew tactically from Malakal town. UNMISS protection soldiers wanted to conduct the search for illegal weapons smuggled inside the protection camp but Dinka Internally Displaced Persons refused to allow UNMISS Security to conduct the search for weapons then the attack happened last night at 8:00pm.”

 Here is another internal email exclusively leaked to and published by Inner City Press, with names redacted for obvious reasons:

"From FAO Wau
From Wau: Subject: Serious Security Situation in Wau
Dear XXX

I hereby wish inform you about a serious security situation we are currently experiencing in Wau since yesterday evening.

Indeed security has been recently shaky in Wau and vicinity, but yesterday it worsened to the extent that many of our staff members had to seek for a refuge at night at the UNMISS compound.

Since this morning, all the vehicles are grounded at the office, as no driver could move and there is no authorization for any vehicle to move out of the UNMISS compound.

We are in contact with the FSCO, although no information has been circulated so far. With regards, XXXX”"

  The full document we have put online here. A quote:

In March 2014, a labelling error was discovered whilst transporting containers loaded with duty equipment for the UN Ghanaian peacekeepers in Unity State which brought strained relations to even a lower point. The error was exploited to galvanise hostility towards the UN in favour of the government by falsely presenting the UN as supplying weaponry to the opposition. It took elaborate interventions, investigations
and communications to clear the false impression that this created.

[ICP note: the same type of "labeling" or "clerical" error occure this months with weapons headed to MONUSCO. This is what UN Peacekeeping has become under Herve Ladous, who linked peacekeepers' rapes to "R&R, here.]

We'll have more on this.